The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and PowerThis exciting and entertaining eight-part series, based on Daniel Yergin's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, captures the panoramic history of the biggest industry in the world.

Shot on location in Azerbaijan, Egypt, England, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, Russia, Scotland, Turkey, and the United States, the series features fascinating characters, archival footage, and interviews with the people who shaped the oil industry.

Yergin appears on camera throughout the series to discuss oil's impact on politics, economics, and the environment.

Watch the full documentary now (playlist - 7 hours)

Ratings: 8.64/10 from 22 users.

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68 Comments / User Reviews

  1. dmxi

    in-depth & very informative...interesting for all concerned !

  2. Irishkev

    Henry Ford had the right idea, should have stuck with hemp oil.

  3. drinker69

    I read somewhere it takes 3 barrels of oil just to make 1 tire for a car. Its what they referred to in Mad Max as 'The Precious Juice'. These cunning businessmen have no problem whatsoever starting wars over business interests, its part of the process to them. It doesn't really matter what the product is someone always wants it for themselves or the greater part of it and deals are never 50-50. The British and the Dutch had a war over the Mackeral fishery in the English Channel. Mackeral for fack sake! Looking at the wealth that can be accrued through oil these business tycoons probably go home at night and bathe in the stuff while they play around with rubber duckies and stare Rockefeller like at maps of global tar pits/warzones wondering who to screw over next. Precious juice indeed.

  4. jack duffy

    "for fack sake!" Love it. Sounds like you're from New England.

  5. wald0

    Surprisingly entertaining, I am usually not interested in auto-biographies of business men or the origin of this or that sector of industry- just not my cup of tea. This was really good though, informative and interesting. These types of tactics and policies are what I fear from unregulated, pure capitalism. It sets the stage for the rich and powerful to get more rich and powerful, to be able to get together and set prices or control supply, to gain even more powerful influence in our government, the list goes on and on. With no regulation what is to stop them, their sense of fair play? Give me a break. Now, not only do they want to deregulate markets, they want to privatize primary and secondary education, privatize the military, privatize our entitlement programs like medicare, privatize everything basically. This means you have no money- you get no services, not even a high school education for your children.

    I catch a lot of heat for saying this as an American, but I think socialism and capitalism working together is the best answer we currently have a working model of. Not this service based capitalism we have int he U.S. either, I mean manufacturing a real product. All these investment, credit, and financial services are what got us in the trouble we are currently in. These things don't create jobs for the average middle class worker, they don't create a product that we can export to other countries, they simply keep prices high and improve the standard of living for the upper one percent. At the same time we have a huge trade deficit with countries like China, soaring unemployment, and a declining middle class- all of which could be fixed by recreating a manufacturing sector.

    I would like to see an experiment with a resource based economic system, like the zietgiest movement advocates. I have my worries, but if it could work it would be wonderful. I just am not sure how we would transition, if technology is really that advanced, and if people can overcome human nature enough to accept such an equal and balanced system.

  6. Tyler Partridge

    Considering this doc surrounded J.D. Rockefellar and his business transgressions, I thought they would have atleast mentioned Ludlow.

  7. Rocky Racoon

    at a minimum corporate profits should be taxed higher and put toward the common good. Minimum. This would mean universal access to health care education and housing and a garanteed annual income-full employment everyone must work and the work is divided among all the workers....share the wealth and the labour since mechanization is replacing just about everyone.....just divide up the work that is left and socially necessary. Being a corporate lawyer is not necessay under such a system as are marketers advertizers all those over head functions of capital that siphon off and promote capital hey the state and the police would eventually be phased out as well once our cultural level gets high enough.
    very possible even within a regulated capitalism at least until mechanization makes exploitation of living labour totally impossible and thats the end of the system. Capitalism is after a social relation over and above an economic system/ Without the institution of private property it cannot exist. If all needed services were provided as public utilities banking included.....we would eliminate private ownership and the two contending classes workers and owners. Our historical problem class struggle is solved

  8. tomregit

    So you "read somewhere it takes 3 barrels of oil to make a tire".
    I doubt that you actually read it since it sounds absurd and a minimal amount of research would show that it takes around five gallons to make the tire and two gallons to supply the needed energy. That's a substantial amount, but three barrels would make over twenty tires.
    Mad Max may not be the best source for information on anything.

  9. Guest

    Put this on for company even though I thought it might be a bit dry, the narrator has a nice voice, the photos are lovely and the music is too. Especially like the fiddle at the start. Sucked in again, if only I had 7 hours to spare I could sit all day and still feel that I'd spent my time well.

  10. Guest

    He might have meant not just making it but bringing them to "a store near you"...just saying.
    It made me wonder how many barrels of oil surrounds each of us in a home, with all the plastic shite that fills the space.

  11. PaulGloor

    don't forget paint, synthetic fabrics and fillers etc etc... even some petroleum based ingredients in food. A world without oil will be a very empty, bland and cold one for a while :P

  12. PaulGloor

    Taxing the corporate dollar heavier would kill work opportunities as they cut jobs to keep the profit line. Fewer people do more work or they take their business elsewhere where they can pay peanuts, then the economy crashes.

  13. 1davideo_kidd1

    I've got a new heroine - Ida Tarbell - nemesis of John D. Rockefeller, the world's first billionaire.

    The first part of this doc is excellent. For instance, who knew there were electric cars 100 years ago?

    I'm looking forward to watching the rest...

  14. drinker69

    I stand corrected. But then answer this. What about bigger tires for farm equipment, trucks, and those really big ass pick up trucks you see on the oil fields. Making those would surely reach into the barrel measures right smart guy? And FYI, Mad Max is a superb information tool. How else are you suppose to learn to deal with Tina Turner and survive a place called Bartertown? Or the right tactics to use inside Thunderdome to off your opponent.(do I grab the chainsaw or the spear) HUH? Be factual with your response because....We don't need another heeero.

  15. tomdham

    I watched segments 1-7.
    It was a great history of the oil industry and I have learned many things even after being in the oil & gas industry for over thirty years.

    I have lived and worked on rigs, electrical engineering, for 28 years in Louisiana and now in Abu Dhabi for 7 years.

    When I got to #8! Greenpeace is the first person to be presented? What a complete shock!!
    How does a fact based documentary come to a fantasy based Hollywood conclusion?
    I do not have a problem with alternative energy, but how can you balance (if that was the intent) this documentary based in history and reality to the world of Los Angeles, left wing hippie mindset?

    Electric cars (Edison batteries) were a good idea. GE, where I worked for 25 years, has been developing the technology in Salem, VA for many years.
    No it is not new, but there is still a lot of work to be done with the "battery" engineering and technology and production of the proper hardware.
    (e.g. the Chevy "Volt", what a joke!)

    BTW: I just got off a land rig here in Abu Dhabi and the actual cost to drill for a barrel is $14.00!!

    Anyway, great documentary up to #8.
    Cheers, Tom

  16. Darrell Booth

    Hollywood fantasy is the basis for the alternative energy movement?
    Odd comparison.
    I too have worked in the Oil and Gas industry (one of the hottest topics for oil and gas in the last 5 years) up in the Tarsands Alberta.
    There have been many zero point energy inventors that have come up with the solution to the oil dependancy "problem".
    Some you might find surprising to know about. The obvious ones like Nicola Tesla was one of the great inventors of zero point energy, his only downfall was that he wanted to make this technology free and wireless to the people. And we all know (or should know) how energy companies like to give things away for free. They don't just in case you were wondering. Other than Tesla, I think it would be hard for you to name a few other zero point energy inventors without consulting Google.
    One that comes to mind that is really surprising would be Nazi Germany. Allied soldiers would come across houses that were still lit up by 3-4 light bulbs, they knew that the power station had been knocked out by arial bombing or ground shelling. Upon investigation they found a magnetic wheel turning under its own power generating enough power to light 3-4 light bulbs.
    This technology was swiftly confiscated by the upper command never to be seen again. However one solider didn't follow command and took it apart to bring it home to reassemble and improve upon the design.
    I could go on and on mentioning the likes of Canadian inventor John Hutchison, and then there was Paul Pantone and the "GEET Plasma Reactor Motor". He was jailed when trying to go public with his invention.
    So the "left wing hippie mindset" is not based in fantasy, you just haven't heard about a lot of the backroom deals, character assassinations of inventors to keep free clean energy away from the people. This doesn't make sense you say? Why would we stop inventors from progressing society? When a story doesn't make sense.....follow the money. And how much money would oil and gas and every energy company lose if free clean energy was available to the people. I think it would be in the trillions.
    And by the way, I voted for Stephen Harper the last 2 elections and the conservatives for over 15 years. I ain't no hippy!

  17. Irishkev

    Ha, you said shite!

  18. Irishkev

    P.S. I'm from Dublin, we invented shite.

  19. WTC7

    Succinct, and down to the gist of the problem, as usual. Excellent!

  20. Irishkev

    I should really say they use it throughout Ireland , before I have a load of Irish people on my case arguing over who invented shite, lol.
    P.s. It's pronounced shoyte.

  21. tomregit

    Hi Az. The wholesale spot price of a barrel of oil is around $100.00. It would cost over $300.00 for raw, unrefined crude to make a tire at three barrels per tire. The math doesn't work.

  22. stephenkuemmel

    not in wexford it isnt lol

  23. dmxi

    very well spoken,sir!' wisdom is not welcome where vultures feast '
    is what comes to mind when one remotely views 'demo(n)cratic-pop-culture ' which is so violently spread around globally, masked as the best interest for individual freedo(o)m.

  24. slpsa

    Well, that about sums it up. You voted for a right wing bible thumping dictator that has ruined our reputation and world standing. It will take years to fix what that bible thumping jackass has done to this Country. Not to mention his new agendas coming up. Superprisons to jail people in a Country who currently have the lowest crime rate in o0ur history. Who is going to fill those for profit prisons? You figure it out and hope it is not you and your family.

  25. dmxi

    it has been calculated that every human would have to labour 4 hours a day(with advanced technologies we already possess,that is) & social,
    enviromental & worldwide nutrition issues would become ad absurdum!decentralization is sold under the brand of chaos or anarchy but chaos is order which is not controlable & anarchy is order without leadership!''if i were a throneless king and would gain back my reign ,my first action would be to dumb down the masses...........................''

  26. dmxi

    knitpicker...........!but mad max is the best clue where we're heading!hope you can hide behind your twenty tires when the hoardes come pillaging (hope you have a carved boomerang to cut some fingers!) !

  27. dmxi

    i was raised & bruised in manchester(but born in athy,eire) & it was always spouted out loud that 'shite' was a true mancunian invention!

  28. tomregit

    Nitpicking would be pointing out you spelled nitpicker wrong. A statement that's out by a factor of twenty is hardly a nit. I'm no apologist for the oil industry(sold my car; I cycle and use public transport); more likely to join the hordes (not hoardes). Winchester Defender; better than a boomerang.

  29. brian rose

    It takes approximately 7 gallons to make a single tire. The importance of oil isn't in tires though. It fuels 99% of sea and air transport, and 95% of ground transport globally. This is due to its easy transportability (its a liquid at atmospheric temp and pressure), but also due to its incredible energy density. Put a gallon of gas in your vehicle, drive it until it stalls, and then push it back to the gas station. After completing this grueling 30 mile journey pushing a 2,000 lb object you'll have a much larger appreciation for the ease of living oil affords us. Oil is also the primary constituent of most pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, paints, polymers, plastics, synthetic fibers, lubricants, etc. In fact, oil IS everything from the tooth paste you brush your teeth with (and, of course, the brush itself) to the ethylene glycol (antifreeze) that cools your engine. Its the paint on your wall, the varnish on your table, sealant on your deck, the polyester in your clothes, nylon in your dogs leash, the Vitamin C you take in the morning... its all oil! I certainly hope this product isn't finite in quantity, or we'd be in big trouble some day.

    If demand exceeds supply we'd have to pay upwards of $4.00 a gallon! Oh wait... that already has started. Even worse the price I paid at the pump this morning was the highest price ever paid in January in history; this doesn't bode well for this summer.

  30. brian rose

    Oil on the international isn't priced at the cost of production. Its priced to the demand of the marginal buyer. Since oil is such a useful commodity (its the most exploited resource in history for a reason) growing demand from developing countries will force their bids higher in a market with stagnant supply. Using the prescient example of putting a gallon of gas in your vehicle, driving until it stalls, and pushing it back to the gas station makes you realize the true value of oil. Many people complain about $4.00 gallon gas, but how much would someone have to pay you to push their car 30 miles? A heck of a lot more than $4.00! A single gallon of oil contains 500 hours of human labor.

    Every one of us today lives far more luxurious lifestyles than the kings of the Middle Ages. Serfs are no longer necessary because the capacity of oil to do work far surpasses that of a population of slave labor. King Henry VIII would drool with envy at the lifestyle the average American lives, and this is all due to fossil fuels.

    Keep in mind that technology has impacted our living standards to an extreme degree, but technology without energy (i.e. an engine without gas) is useless. Technology is merely an efficient means of utilizing resources, but those resources must first exist for the technology to be of benefit.

  31. dmxi

    well spotted,sir!i have to excuse myself for not having my oxford concise at hand due to typing down a quick ''precision is not the point'' comment & i forgot to put the 'a' in hoardes in ( a ) as a wordplay meaning: the hordes and the hoarders (like in mad max,but a pun that went wrong)!you WINchester against my BOOmerang,sir!

  32. drinker69

    Touche sir. You are smarter than me. I just wonder with the prices of oil that these people at the top don't just fk around with the populous for fun. Which I believe they do. I'm pretty sure they just up the price or drop it for kicks. Probably over a nice champagne breakfast. "Hey Rockefeller, just up it 2 cents on the litre for Tuesday and Wednesday. I want to buy another restaurant."
    "Ok fine" says Rockefeller. "Just make it Italian. I like Italian."

  33. David Foster

    "King Henry VIII would drool with envy at the lifestyle the average American lives" And that we have forgotten so completely that we could live any other way should give us pause.

  34. Dan ken

    yet another link between religious ideology and elitism

  35. tomregit

    no wut, ur pretty clever. i get ur pun now. I admire your command of English. Don't deny it now.

  36. tomregit

    understood. i dint get ur pun, my bad. Seriously, you are pretty good with words, the English language, etc. The "like on your comment is from me. thums up.

    Donald Sutherland, great narration!

  37. Guest

    Thanks, been trying to remember the name of the voice since yesterday :)

  38. tomregit

    Canadian eh.

  39. Irishkev

    Very true, I live in Wexford now. I suppose my spelling of the pronunciation was a bit D4, not very cool for a Finglas man, lol.

  40. Irishkev

    I had a feeling I wouldn't get away with that one without some competition,lol.

  41. Irishkev

    In Ireland we pay 1euro 60+cent per litre at present and the only way is up. Or so they tell us.

  42. Charles Lozada

    I commend your posts, at first i thought: BUT, you left out the other derivatives by which we live the life of Riley. we have it made. Oil is beautiful and boy did we abuse it. i remember the muscle car days. in the 60's gas was 27.9 and 33.9 per gal. There is a finite supply of two "taken for granted" commodities. The next problem and is equally pressing will be/IS water it's getting contaminated with chemical waste, fertilizers and radioactivity, then it can't be recycled.
    the world is not going to be a pretty place when we start running out of these resources. there Will be One more war!

  43. Charles Lozada

    Congrats to Topdocumentaryfilms for posting this documentary. Iduplicated a copy on vhs from the local library. i searched and searched for a dvd for the longest time, couldn't find it and vhs editions on ebay were about 325. dolls. for the set.
    Good old Tarbell! Rockefeller(s) wasn't AND are still not nice people. they've diversified into everything, you won't see their name though!They operate in the shadows of POWER, they will never give it up.

  44. dmxi

    thank you sir but to be honest, your comment(knit picker etc.) made me very humble,realizing that it was very cocky to pen down a smartarse answer(i felt the urge to defend mr.69) without being formerly introduced (hi,i'm dominic by the way) & not checking my grammar .i 've been a regular guest to this site & have been vividly following the comment section's & think to know that i'm joining a very knowlegable circle of individuals from whom i hope to learn a thing or two.i was touched to see that you accepted my apology & flattered by your response!my grammar lack's a little due to me residing in ' merkelania' for the last 30 years & since my pops died ,i have no native english tongue to comunicate with which explains my bad punctation (i tend to follow german grammar rules etc.) !hope i can polish it up here a little or the gentleman vlatko integrates a 'spell check' option for the distressed!??

  45. dmxi

    well,doesn't matter how you put's still irish !in fact manchester is irish with a slight scottish note,or not kev?

  46. tomregit

    Thanks Dominic. I'm afraid that I, like many others, sometimes resort to smart ass comments. I am trying to be more respectful and I have been reminded more than once by az (azilda). Plenty of grammar and spelling mistakes are made because English is not the first language of many commenters, but if there is wisdom or insight shown it should not detract from their post. Please continue commenting when you have something to say!

  47. brian rose

    My comments focused on oil simply due to the subject of the doc being commented on, so forgive me if I seemed to oil focused. For any complex system (or any system in general) there are two sides to the equation: energy and resources. Energy, which can be thought of as anything that can spontaneously increase in entropy (usually given a small catalytic boost i.e. activation energy), is simply something that is used to organize resources. A plant stores the suns energy by creating glucose, which is then used to efficiently collect, organize, modify, and distribute various resources. Without that energy the plant could not create the biology of life... there'd merely be a diffuse collection of randomly distributed resources (lifeless).

    That may be a pedantic statement, but an important one. No one would deny that infinite growth in a finite system is impossible, but what many don't realize is that with an near infinite supply of energy you could permanently maintain a system with rapidly increasing pollution, scarcer resources, etc. Take water for example. With an infinite supply of energy we could desalinate and transport (an energy intensive, and thus expensive venture) egregious amounts of seawater, which would last us thousands of years(the oceans are really, really big!). We could clean and filter infinite amounts of waste water (again the only impediment is the cost of energy inputs). We could strip mine ore with 0.00005% concentration with no problem because with infinite, cheap amounts of energy there is essentially no cost or impediment besides time. However, time itself is merely a reflection of energy. Accumulated energy (E=mc2) curves space-time causing time dilation. In other words, energy slows down time itself (or at least our relative perception of it). In fact, the only reason that the suns hydrogen can last billions of years is because time is slowed significantly at its center where the fusion reactions take place, thus slowing the consumption of hydrogen fuel.

    Well what about the massive amount of pollution, effluent, emissions, etc. from such mining operations? Again with infinite amounts of nearly free energy we could scrub the skies, land, and water of pollutants. Not enough resources on Earth? Again infinite, nearly free energy would make mining of asteroids, satellites, and planets a cheap affair.

    The only reason we have a converging series of resource crises on the horizon is because we lack the ability to bring online infinite amounts of free energy. Energy is capable of this because its very nature is to reverse the clock of entropy. Lower concentrations of ore, pollution, fresh water scarcity, these are all forms of increased entropy. Essentially, with enough energy you can put a broken egg back together again (this example is both literal and figurative if you know enough about thermodynamics).

    The point of all this rambling? I find that human beings are visual creatures and thus focus on physical resources instead of the more conceptual, energy side of nature. Resources and pollution can only become a problem in an environment of constrained (expensive) energy availability. Thus, the converging crises of civilization will be magnified by the depletion of energy resources (i.e. fossil fuels). If oil were 50 cents a barrel we could desalinate and transport water nearly for free, we could mine and transport rare resources nearly for free, we could scrub CO2, methane, sulfur, CFCs, etc. from the atmosphere nearly for free. Gas would be little over a penny a gallon, and every business, government, and individual in the world would find all goods profoundly cheaper. Imagine paying 15 cents to fill up your tank, or a cargo ship sailing around the world for only a few dollars, the budget needed for our military apparatus would drop significantly (The U.S. military is the single largest user of oil in the world).

    Alas, energy is finite, and we're about to collectively realize that in a very frightening way. Oil stably and consistently above $100 barrel is only a harbinger of the future. As oil prices crush the engine of global growth cities, counties, states, and countries must curtail spending on roads, new sewers, transmission lines, subsidies for renewables, new desalination plants, recycling plants, etc. This is a direct consequence of less total energy being available, and will quickly (over a period of decades... quick in geological time) exacerbate issues of water availability, degrading infrastructure (a form of entropy maintenance), corroded sewer systems, etc. It takes a myopic perspective to see how a stagnant global oil supply causes the degradation of infrastructure (increasing entropy), but its real and its happening now.

  48. dmxi

    very well constructed information !

  49. Irishkev

    Feckin' right!

  50. dmxi

    & a ''feckin' right '' hook to the chin ,popeye style, these gentlemen truly deserve! very disturbing information can be found,when you research into the industries 'shenanigans' that had & have so much impact on society through all levels .

  51. Irishkev

    Oh, sleeveen bastards all right.

  52. wald0

    People complaining about four dollars a gallon are not questioning whether the gas is worth four bucks; of course we would rather pay that than push our car. The problem is that while the gas prices were climbing our wages were falling; now we can't afford four dollar a gallon gasoline. If I understand the basic laws of supply and demand this problem is only going to get worse, less oil, increasing demand, higher prices. All the while this wonderful serviced based economy that most of the first world has embraced is shrinking both income and opportunity for the average person, while putting such an exorbitant amount into the pockets of the one percent that they manage to drive prices even higher. There was a time in the U.S. when at least some of this wealth would "trickle down" to the middle class, but no longer. Now any wealth that manages to escape their greedy claws is immediately put to work overseas or goes straight to Wall Street, no stops on Main. So yes, oil is an amazing energy producer- I don't think anyone denies that. However, when looking at the price of a necessity such as oil you must take into consideration not only what the product can produce, what it is worth compared to say human labor, but also what people can afford to pay. If the gap between what it is worth and what people can pay gets too large, then something is wrong with our cost of living wage adjustments.

    I will not even go into the absurdity of comparing our lives with King Henry VIII. I think maybe I mistook your point in doing so. If it was to simply make the point of how fossil fuels have advanced our standard of living, I think you had made that point already but o.k. If it was to say we should all realize that gas is worth four bucks a gallon and stop complaining, that's ridiculous.

  53. wald0

    Well, I suppose I should have read this comment before replying to the other below. Yes, you did seem to "oil focused" like you were not taking into consideration what people could afford, but only trying to establish the worth of fossil fuels. As a chemistry major, and an x-physics major, I understand the tendency to get a little carried away with the science and forget to talk about the human side of the equation temporarily. By the way, I have been working on a paper specifically about the gibbs free energy equation and entropy in general for the last two months, I am so stealing your definition of energy, it's brilliant!! It is yours right, I don't want to plagiarize. I'll google it. I am looking forward to checking out more posts from you, we seem to have a lot of common interests.

  54. 1davideo_kidd1

    Thanks for a top documentary, although it's a shame there wasn't a follow-up to take in the next 2 decades as well.

    The footage of electric cars running around 100 years ago proves there was an alternative to the internal combustion engine - it would be interesting to find out whether Big Oil suppressed alternative technologies as folk have claimed.

    Any comments?

  55. Charlie

    Great movie with a lesson for us all: Sound Money, Free Enterprise, Constitution as laid out by the founding fathers of the United States of America should see us through.... Unless?

    Unless our republic has been hijacked by financial terrorists. Thieves that can buy Presidents, Congressman, Senators who swear an oath to the Constitution.... and break it, daily!

    Time to hold people accountable who break the law: Presidents, Congressman, Senators, citizens, police, military, etc.

    Not complicated.

    I will be voting for Dr. Ron Paul for President of the United States of America.

    Lord help us ALL if Dr. Ron Paul does not get the Presidency.

  56. brian rose

    Whenever I begin to explain how the future is going to be much more challenging than the present, and its my believe that the present is quite challenging already, I try to lighten the mood by reminding others that no matter how bad it gets you'll still have lived a better life than billions of others. For example, my house can be underwater, I cannot afford the presents I'd like to give my kids for Christmas, and my transmission can blow out when I can't afford it, but I will never be wrongfully accused of being a witch and promptly (and slowly) burned alive at the stake. In other words, my life can suck on a relative level, but on an absolute level I should still be grateful for what I have (clothes, food, shelter, loving family and friends, etc.). So I tried juxtaposing how much I loathe $4.00 gallon gas with the fact that King Henry VIII would have us beheaded for complaining about such a luxury. It was by no means meant to belittle or diminish the difficult times many of us are facing.

    I would suggest asking the average guy or gal in the grocery store, bank, gas station, or wherever if they understand the energy content of a gallon of gasoline, and what its implications are for their standard of living. Scientifically oriented individuals like you and me get it, but the average person on the street has no concept. Part of my point was that right now we complain about $4.00 gallon, but when gas is $6.00 gallon (yes, this will happen, but we may see $2.50 before we see $6.00) we will wish it was "only" $4.00; this I promise. Most people genuinely believe that gas should never, ever be $4.00 that's why most people will speak of speculation, big oil, and OPEC. Even my own dad said that these prices are "ridiculous" and "unjustified" until he read my thesis for Advanced Writing For The Sciences. Now he sees oil is under priced... not overpriced.

    Really my goal is to get others to realize that whats happening in the oil markets is not temporary, but instead reflects the opening act of the second half of the age of oil. When I talk to individuals who think that high gas prices are a sham and a crime I also find that they have not prepared one bit for a future of scarce and expensive oil supplies. When I speak to people who realize that global oil production has been stagnant since 2005, and will soon begin a permanent decline I find they have built gardens, bike frequently, relocated from rural/suburbs to urban areas, save more, spend less, pay off debt, etc. Basically, even though $4.00 gas hurts me (I make $35,000.00 a year, so it pinches me), I don't complain; instead, I prepare.

    Do I have sympathy for those who haven't prepared for a future of economic decline? No, we've had plenty of warning, and time to prepare. Instead of thinking critically and researching what was happening most people ignored (and continue to ignore) the warning signs. Do I feel empathy for them? Yes, many people are suffering greatly as a consequence of the economic decline we're experiencing, and many more will join their ranks in the years ahead. For most, it is no fault of their own, they already have enough to think and worry about without adding these troubles to the equation. They expected the media and government to warn us if something was wrong. That hasn't happened, and it appears the worse it gets the more reassurance we'll get that everything is under control, so just carry on then... nothing is wrong.

  57. wald0

    I agree with many of your sentiments, but I think you are just a little out of touch. No offense intended, but many people have no means to "prepare". They see what is coming and they want to, but they are struggling so hard to simply make ends meet in the present that asking them to prepare for tomorrow is laughable. No amount of saving or frugal management will save someone when their wages are this far below the cost of living. So we say, and by we I mean to include my self at one time, "Well get a better education or learn a better trade". Well, how? Pell grants are shrinking and getting harder to get, besides most of these people have such a hectic and demanding life there is no time or resources for school. They have children and no one to watch them nor money to pay for supervision. They have no reliable means of transportation, and in the rural areas of the U.S. there is no public trans. Even if we could relieve most of these concerns, they already work fifty and sixty hours a week, just to stay afloat. When are they supposed to go to school? Pell grants alone will not pay for all of school anyway.The list goes on and on. Now these people were shown a future that had jobs for them when they were younger, a future of social mobility and opportunity for everyone, not just college grads. So they had every right to believe they could make it just like mom and dad did, with a manufacturing job, provided they worked hard and remained honest. But that future was sold out from under them, through no fault of their own (other than being an uninformed uneducated electorate). I have no patience or sympathy for the lazy or unmotivated, but I can not be as indifferent to good peoples struggles as you seem to be. Again no offense intended, maybe I have totally misread or mistaken what you are saying. I came from a family that had never had a college graduate, lived below the poverty line, and resided in one of the most dead end no opportunity places in the whole U.S., the southeastern states. Still I managed to gain an education and do quite well for myself. How? My dad sacrificed everything, so did my mother. They lived in poverty so they could save for my education, which is why I never made below a B on anything. I felt like I HAD to make it or all that we suffered through while I was coming up was for nothing. Eventually I got a pell and then a student loan, and finally I got a degree. Of course the first degree I got was useless and I am now back in school, I am a junior, majoring in chemistry. My point is that if it was this hard for us, and we made great money for this area, how can we expect these kids around here that have nothing and no parents that care to "prepare" for the future? I do everything I can to help, I tutor for free, I give local kids rides to and from school everyday, I am a drug addiction counselor, I coach local softball and baseball in the summer, etc. But if we do not rebuild our manufacturing sector, make sure everyone of these kids has access to both secondary education and some kind of decent health care, simply start getting involved with these kids lives in every way we can, they have no chance. I will never prescribe to this ideology put forth by Ayn Rand that everyone should only worry for themselves and any thing bad or good that happens to anyone is of their own doing, it's purely false. One of the things that made America exceptional, meaning unique not superior, was that we had a social compact that we would all work in common purpose and that the fortunate would help those less fortunate. It was through this ideology that we established social safety nets like social security, medicare, etc. This made us one of, if not the most, successful country on the face of this globe. Now people want to back out of that compact in midstream because times got tough. Well, why don't we just shed all of our principles and values when they cease to be convenient then. That seems to be what we have turned into- be against torture, until it seems useful- be for charity and compassion, until times get tough- never be the aggressor, until resources start running thin. If we do this, if we shed our values and principles that have made America what it is, we deserve what is coming in my opinion.
    Sorry if this seemed a bit passionate but, we have hit on a nerve that runs very deep in me- compassion and concern for my fellow man are of the up most importance to me. I'm sure the same is true for you and I have probably misstated your position or misunderstood your meaning. However, it is possible for those that are more fortunate, those that have a good education and a professional position in life, to lose touch with the reality of those born in poverty and broken, dysfunctional families. Often this is through no fault of their own, how could we expect them to understand when they never come into contact with it except through some speech given by someone else out of touch with reality or the Sunday night movie about the poor kid that made it. The reality is that many people face a dismal future through no fault of their own, that no amount of responsible behavior on their part is going to change. We don't owe these people charity, though it would be nice if we would be charitable, what we owe them is a system that gives them the same chances and opportunities that I have. We had this at one time here in the U.S. and we can again, but we must return to manufacturing a real product that can be exported, must open the opportunity for higher education to EVERY person, must place the welfare of our citizens well OVER the pursuit of the almighty dollar, must value character and honesty over excess and vulgarity, etc. When these things happen, those that don't make it I will call lazy and unmotivated and feel no sympathy for. Until then I will continue to advocate for these people, to try and give them a voice of their own. After all, there but for the grace of god go I.

  58. brian rose

    I graduated with a B.S. in Biology in 2010. I am now a server making ~$35,000.00 a year. I have $20,000.00 in student loan debt. I have a cell phone bill, auto insurance, a mortgage (that's a recent acquisition...part of my prepping, oddly enough), home owners insurance, property taxes, power bill, water bill. I have a Siberian Husky who has a grain allergy (expensive food), vet visits, monthly doses of flea med and heartworm med, etc. I'm not some guy living in his 3 story house with a pension. I'm a 24 year old whose debt/income ratio is as bad as any American.

    So what do I do? I never, ever go out to bars. I make every meal at home (unless I'm eating at work... I am a server afterall). I don't have cable, my internet is the 4G hotspot from my phone (using it as I type!), I bike to work (16 miles round trip), I just finished my garden (I moved from Minnesota to Florida because of the longer growing season), I'm building a water harvesting system, I don't use heat and rarely use A/C (I never would use A/C if I didn't have a dog that requires it), I haven't bought clothes in 3 years, I brew my own wine, I cut my own hair (Remington Short-Cut), I could go on, but the point is that I make over $10,000 less than the average American, but due to intentional austerity I'm going to save enough to pay off half my student loans this year. In 3 years I'll be producing 95% of my own food.

    There's plenty the average person can do, but the average person, when confronted with difficult situations, delves even more strongly into their vices, which usually means spending even more money they don't have. That how I can be both unsympathetic and empathic. I am living proof that if only you can ignore the cultural pressures around you its possible to make a better future for yourself. At the same time I fully understand the magnitude of the pressure to live a "normal" social life. I've sacrificed a lot to live life this way, but I'm happier and in better health than I've ever been.

    The flip side is that when I was in college living with 5 other roommates (awesome, lively, and fun roommates at that) I spent money like MC Hammer. I can now reflect on that part of my past and realize that the urge for social acceptance, to go out on a weekend and blow off steam, and all the small purchases in day to day life that result, were destroying my future. So it is possible to make significant changes in your life and prepare for a difficult future, but it also requires being honest with oneself about where you are, where your going, and whats going to make you happy in the long term. People find it very odd that I don't go to Chipotle on a whim, cut my own hair, and would rather stay at home and play guitar or read than go for a night on the town (I'm 24 after all, so its quite odd to my peers), but its that stigma that I'm strangely proud of... it means I'm on the right track when our society is in the ditch.

  59. Sean Finn

    Hi Brian,
    I believe your comments may be greatly appreciated on TED.
    Tonnes of lectures regarding renewable resources, energy supply, scientific inquiry etc.
    Also, I think we may be cut from the same cloth - I seem to agree with all your points!
    I recently turned 22 - I hope to be as self sufficient as you when I am 24.
    Inspiring words mate. Great to know that others are also attempting to live in accordance with nature. It is all one can do.

  60. Charles Lozada

    You and Brian are not really off target. You both have things in common, I see 2 young men, that are trying to cope in a world that has been bought off and sold out by the large Corporations.
    NAFTA helped only the Corporations. the livings std's of the countries that got the jobs, didn't really improve. They promised to give them decent ( better than they had ) wages. When the corps. found out they could get labor even cheaper, they scurried off to that country.
    I wish I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. I hate to think negative, but the competition from countries like China, India and even Brazil is overwhelming.
    Chinese college grads are having the same problems, they are taking jobs for which they are overqualified. I don't know what the solution is! And to further add complications: natural resources are drying out.

  61. Charles Lozada

    You are a very admirable young man. your education may not have paid off yet, but your knowledge, thinking and writing skills, will put you ahead of the pack in the years to come.
    best wishes

  62. Mike Babcock

    Very interesting. Maybe this is the shock society needs in order to wake up and start moving away from a capitalistic, monetary system to a realistic resource based approach.

  63. Terry Beaton

    What kind of perverted concepts are these 'oil consessions'. Who thinks they have the right to sell the earth off to greed monsters like it was their own personal property? Like a pimp with his whore. The things some people do while the 99% don't even have a clue how little they matter.

  64. derek.mason

    I wanted to watch this again because I remember when it was on PBS back in the early 1990s. Netfilx does not have it and I no longer have a VHS player, so I am not going to buy it on amazon. com. Is the DVD for sale on this site? Available anywhere?

  65. dptowns

    It up to you, me, and us, to point this out, and not let the public forget. In the times of "today" and in light of our current energy situation we should "drive" this home as the unknowing, uncaring public get in their cars and play their prestigious power games.
    Unfortunately, as long as Americans can turn their key in their ignition life will go on as it has for the last 100 years. Threaten that liberty and they will pay attention.
    When gas reaches $5.00 a gal. at the pumps, and remains there, people will change. Hit 'em where it hurts, their pocketbooks!

  66. DigiWongaDude

    10/10 I couldn't stop watching. Superbly factual without any of the usual hidden aggenda. It's long - nearly 8 hours, but well worth the watch all the way to the end! A good follow up for the years that follow (by the same youtube user):

    "Oil, Smoke and Mirrors" (2006)


    "Commanding Heights - The Battle for the World Economy" (PBS) (2002)
    - by the same team who made "The Prize", very biased towards economic globalisation (which I am not), but on the upshot gives an insider view of those that promote it.

    Thanks Vlatko!

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